Bahrain Report: Children without Citizenship

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Bahrain has used denaturalization as a tool against individuals expressing dissent regarding the government’s decision, and now it’s using it against children.  

Read the full report here.

Many among those whose  Bahraini citizenship had been revoked were active members of the civil society, including human rights activists, journalists and opposition and religious figures. The  majority of those stripped of citizenship have also been rendered stateless.  

Stateless persons have no recognised rights in Bahrain, and their ability to obtain and retain housing, employment, legal representation, banking facilities and medical aid are all severely restricted. In the past fours years, 352 Bahrainis were rendered stateless following the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings. An unprecedented number of citizenship revocations occurred in 2015, when a ministerial order was issued to denaturalize 72 individuals. Later in that same year, the authorities revoked citizenship of 136 defendants through  the courts over politically motivated charges. The year 2016 saw an alarming rate of citizenship revocations. The total number of people rendered  stateless in 2016 in Bahrain was 92 in primary courts. The revocation of citizenship is also being levied at the families of such individuals and is a form of punishment orchestrated by the state to quell opposition and manipulate the population demographic.

In recent years, cases of children of dissidents denied nationality documents were frequently reported. It appears as a means to place pressure on the wanted fathers to submit themselves for arrest or an increased punishment for those already arrested. By refusing to issue documents confirming the nationality of the child, or identification documents, the state increases the pressure placed on families of dissidents.

BCHR has verified a total of 13 cases where children have been denied citizenship documents by Bahraini authorities. These children were born between 2013 and 2016.

Of these cases, 10 of the children have a Bahraini father who is still a Bahraini citizen, thus meeting the mandatory requirement for the child to be given Bahraini nationality. Another three children were born to Bahraini fathers who had their citizenship revoked. 9 of these children were born to a father who is wanted, that is in hiding or has left Bahrain out of fear of arrest. Even though both the father and the mother of these children are Bahraini citizens, the children lack any citizenship documents, even years after birth. In at least 2 of the cases, the father is detained in a Bahraini prison, but the authorities have made it impossible for him to sign the necessary documents to apply for the citizenship document for his child. By denying these children their citizenship documents, the Bahraini government has rendered them stateless.

Read the full report here.